Recently, there has been a lot of buzz about increasing one’s energy levels, and finding natural ways to clear the mind and function at one’s best. Of course, if one is looking for the natural solution, there are simple guidelines that one can follow.
Eating a well-balanced diet — This is, put simply, the cornerstone of nutrition. A proper diet ensures that the body has all of the vitamins and minerals that it needs to function properly, and this is a large reason that many people have health complaints.
Exercising regularly — Exercising regularly is imperative. Along with increasing cardiovascular health, there is nothing like it in terms of reducing stress and clearing the head, which can lead to someone feeling sharper and more alert.
Getting enough sleep — And, a good night’s rest– you’d be hard pressed to find someone to tell you they perform better with fewer hours of sleep, and this is, of course, because sleep is where the body resets, where cells get the rest that they need to start the following day freshened and able to properly work.
These are the natural ways to increase your vitality and, generally, become a healthier person. But, especially when balancing health with the stressors and rigors of day to day life, these are not always possible, due to the time and energy that they might require.
Fortunately, there are many vitamins and supplements that exist in the world, that your body uses as the building blocks for proper cellular function, which, on a human-body scale, is what makes you feel properly energized and focused. Take these dope as vitamins:
Ashwagandha is one of the most important medicinal herbs in Indian Ayurveda, which is one of the world’s oldest medicinal systems– has been harvested for centuries for its root and berry, which are the parts of it that have historically been used to make medicine, and are still used today. It is thought to increase energy by enhancing the body’s natural resilience to physical and mental stress.
It is also used as an adaptogen, which is a medicinal plant that has been historically used to treat and assist the body in fighting disease. In one study, published by the National Institutes of Health (1), people that were given ashwagandha responded positively to it in terms of stress management– in summary, they showed significant improvement in several markers of stress and anxiety compared to those that were simply given a placebo. Most notably, they had 28% lower levels of cortisol, a hormone that increases in response to stress– it can be therefore surmised that it was the Ashwagandha that has some effect on cortisol level, which can be translated into a lower perceived feeling of stress.
CoQ10 is the name of something that is colloquially known as coenzyme Q10. This is a coenzyme family that is ubiquitous in animals and most bacteria. It is naturally produced in the human body, and over the counter it comes in a few forms, including ubiquinone and ubiquinol– what ubiquitous means in the case of the human body is that it is found in all cells.
All cells contain CoQ10– although the highest concentrations of these cells are found in the heart, kidneys, and liver. Cells use this coenzyme to make energy and protect themselves from oxidative damage. When the levels of CoQ10 decline, the cells cannot produce the energy required to grow and stay healthy, which may contribute to some peoples’ feelings of fatigue.
Fish, meat, and nuts would be the natural source of this coenzyme for human consumption, though there is no widely available food in which the CoQ10 amounts would be large enough to cause a significant increase within the human body without overconsumption– this leaves one option: supplements. (2)
The main cause for the decrease in levels of coenzyme Q10 is age, and it may be especially low in people with heart failure or heart disease, certain cancers, type 2 diabetes or in people who take statins, a class of medications that is used to lower the level of cholesterol present in the blood– and it is in these people that coenzyme Q10 supplements would be of the most benefit, since research suggests that supplements would be unlikely to increase energy in people that already have the appropriate levels of the enzyme (2). In summary, the real benefactors of coenzyme Q10 supplementation would be older people with reduced levels of it present in their body, or anyone who suffers from one of the conditions listed above.
The B vitamins play a vital role in maintaining the good health and well-being of the human body. They have a direct impact on energy levels, brain function, and cell metabolism– which means that B vitamins, and especially Vitamin B1, have a profound effect on assisting in transforming the food you eat into usable energy for your cells.
It also keeps nerves and blood cells healthy, which is important for regular day-to-day function and energy levels, and helps prevent a type of anemia, which is a condition caused by low red blood cell count and can very often cause symptoms of weakness and sluggishness.
Luckily, unlike coenzyme Q10, which is not found in high quantities in food, and Ashwagandha, which is a plant found natively only in a specific corner of the world, Vitamin B12 is found in a wide variety of foods– primarily, it is found in animal proteins including meat, fish, and dairy products. Many foods that Americans eat are also artificially fortified in B12, which allows them to meet the recommended daily value of B12 (3) through a diet that can include things such as vegan spreads, non-dairy milk, and many breakfast cereals.
However, that does not mean that it is impossible to develop a B12 deficiency, which occurs when the body does not get enough of the vitamin, or is not able to absorb it properly. This can lower the efficiency of regular bodily functions such as cellular respiration, which can lead to feelings of sluggishness. A vitamin boost with B12 in the following at-risk demographics may lead to increased energy levels:
- Older Adults: Approximately 10-30% of the adults that are over the age of fifty have difficulty absorbing Vitamin B12 from the food that they eat. This is because they produce less of the proteins and acids that are required to properly break down the vitamin in the stomach and absorb it through the intestines. (4)
- Vegans: Vegans and vegetarians, due to dietary restrictions that include foregoing animal products, are some of the more at-risk people for a Vitamin B12 deficiency. This is because animal foods, specifically animal proteins, are the only natural sources of B12.
- Gastrointestinal Disorders: Those who suffer from conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract, such as celiac or Crohn’s disease, which both can lead to the improper absorption of nutrients including B12.
Iron is a necessary nutrient for proper vital functions because the body needs it for the creation of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein that is found in red blood cells, and is what is responsible for transporting the oxygen that is gathered in the lungs to the organs and tissues that need it throughout the body. Without sufficient amounts of iron present in the body, the red blood cells cannot do their primary job– delivering oxygen to the tissues in the body.
The result of this is, of course, an iron deficiency anemia, which is a lack of red blood cells present in the body due to a lack of iron, and this may leave the person suffering from it leaving fatigued and weak. The causes of iron deficiency anemia can include:
Iron-Poor Diet: Primarily, it is people who do not get sufficient iron through their food, as a varied diet can be all that is required to ensure proper micronutrientation. The richest sources of iron that are available in the human diet are meat and seafood– for this reason, vegans and those who forego these sources of iron require roughly 1.8 times the amount of iron in their diet as omnivorous humans.
Blood Loss: More than half of the iron that is present in the body is in the blood. Therefore, heavy periods or internal bleeding, or other traumatic injury, can dramatically deplete levels of iron in the body, causing feelings of sluggishness and lightheadedness.
Pregnancy: Additionally, pregnant women require twice the iron that a normal human does, and this is because they are ingesting iron for two. They need twice as much iron to support normal fetal growth, but about half of all pregnant women develop iron deficiency anemia because of this heavy requirement.
In these cases, an iron supplement would be needed to avoid complications associated with this anemia– if left entirely untreated, these complications can range from fatigue to lightheadedness, to feelings of sluggishness or drowsiness. However, because excessive iron intake carries its own health risks, you should consult a medical professional to ensure iron supplements are right for you.(5)
Finally, Vitamin C. It is one of the most widely recognized immune system boosters, and for good reason. It is known as an essential vitamin, which means that it is one of the vitamins that the human body is unable to produce naturally. It plays many roles in the body, and has been linked to impressive health benefits(6).
Also known as ascorbic acid, it is one of the safest and most effective nutrients that exist for human consumption. The benefits of vitamin C may include protection against deficiencies in the immune system, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even wrinkling– it is also water soluble, which has led to many over-the-counter vitamin C supplements that are widely available for human consumption– and this is good, as what is ideal for human consumption may actually be close to five times the recommended daily value– research points to it being 500 milligrams a day– and a safe upper limit for consumption of the vitamin lies around 2,000 milligrams per day.
However, this does not mean that it is impossible to fill one’s diet with foods that are rich in the Vitamin. All citrus fruits, including oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines contain it, along with bell peppers, spinach, kale, and broccoli. Because the body has no way to store it, it is important to consume Vitamin C every day, in a varied diet ideally, though Vitamin C supplements remain a viable option.